The Onion Flower

Writer and Horticulturist

Filling The Hungry Gap

5 Comments

Foraged Greens

I had hoped to have photos of vigorous pea shoots and tall greens by now but this ‘one step forward two steps back’ spring were having has delayed everything – both in terms of what I’ve been able to plant and what has yet to appear at the farmer’s market. Although there are many emerging perennials, for the most part my backyard is still looking rather bare.

This month I have eaten the last of many of my frozen and preserved bounty. The canned tomato sauce, rhubarb-strawberry jam, frozen zucchini and stored winter squash to name a few. This of course is the classic hungry gap. The time in between when the stored harvest from last year peters out and the vegetables of early spring have yet to arrive. I hope to be better prepared for this next year with more food preserved as well as more perennial vegetables planted, but until then I am getting my dose of leafy greens by foraging for edible weeds.

Wild Violet

I’ve been eating them in salads and sandwiches, wilting them with butter like spinach and making jelly and syrup with the edible flowers of violets and dandelions. Garlic mustard, dandelions and wild violets are abundant near parks, bike paths and outside your front door.

Garlic Mustard

The garlic mustard in particular infests my own garden and I have found the best way to keep it under control is to eat it. It has a slight garlicky smell and a pronounced mustard heat that gets stronger as the leaves get bigger – great in a sandwich. Dandelion leaves add a radicchio-like bitterness which complements the green freshness of the wild violet leaves. These are just three easily identifiable edible weeds out of the many that grow in urban yards. If you’re going foraging yourself be certain to know what you’re eating before putting it in your mouth(and wash it). A good guidebook is helpful but joining a guided walk is even better.

Dandelion

Remember to stay off private property and pick responsibly – don’t decimate an entire population of anything and be smart; don’t eat anything you suspect may have been sprayed with pesticide (or dog pee)!

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5 thoughts on “Filling The Hungry Gap

  1. My dear, I would be happy to see you in my private yard harvesting dandelion leaves 🙂 I think I might have more dandelions than grass! (You should have been here on Saturday when I filled the entire green bin with dandelions pulled from the front yard). I also have tons of violets, though I like looking at them so much I hate to eat them.

    I really should start eating the dandelion leaves. Maybe I’ll forage some tomorrow morning to put into my salad lunch.

    • Dandelion flowers dipped in a light batter and then fried in butter and olive oil are really tasty! I also made a pesto with the garlic mustard since my frozen basil pesto is long gone. One of my friends at work has planted all of her tomatoes and peppers out, I’m still worried they’ll freeze. How about you?

  2. I have not planted tomatoes outside yet, because it’s still so cool at night. I’m going to play it safe after killing all the tomatoes last year 🙂

    Interesting about the dandelion flowers….hmmm. The man of the house is already asking how soon he can have more battered and fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with cheese 🙂

    Hey, do you have jerusalam artichokes in your yard? They are so invasive! All I do is pull these things out (the previous owner complained about them too), and they have great big tubers even when they’re tiny seedlings. I know they’re edible, but they’re so incredibly invasive and I was also turned off by learning they’re referred to as “fartichokes”! If for some reason you want some, I can give you all the j.artichoke seedlings in the world 🙂 I’m pretty sure I’ll never be rid of them.

    • I will take all your j’chokes happily. Mine didn’t come back last year for some reason. You know what they say, if they’re invasive it’s because you’re not eating them enough! Fart humour aside, they didn’t seem to have any negative effect on us and I find them quite tasty. They also make a nice living fence to screen out my neighbour’s junky yard. Save them all for me! Maybe I can cycle over to your place on the weekend and pick them up. I just got a new bike and I haven’t figured out where most of the paths are yet but like a six-year old I’m really excited about going everywhere I can with it!

  3. I’ve been pulling them out, but I know there are probably still tons there. I’m not sure how they like being transplanted, but given that I can’t stop them from popping up I’m guessing they’d be fine. I think it’s supposed to be pretty rainy on the weekend, but I’m sure we could arrange something 🙂 You might have to help me dig them though 🙂

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